Trump claims he used the FBI to help DeSantis win 2018 election – prompting calls for investigation

GOP has turned on Mr Trump following the party’s disappointing midterms performance – and thrown support behind Mr DeSantis

Rachel Sharp
Friday 11 November 2022 14:45 GMT
Roger Stone 'disappointed' by GOP turnout in midterms on Alex Jones's show
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Donald Trump has claimed that he used the FBI and US attorneys to help Ron DeSantis win the 2018 election to become governor of Florida – prompting calls for an “immediate investigation” into the close race.

The former president launched a scathing attack on Mr DeSantis in a post on his Truth Social platform on Thursday where he branded his GOP rival an “average Republican governor with great public relations” who was “politically dead” until he helped turn his fortunes around.

In the rambling statement, Mr Trump made the controversial claim that he “sent the FBI” to interfere in Florida’s 2018 gubernatorial race – ensuring it swung in the Republican’s favour.

“I was all in for Ron, and he beat Gillum, but after the Race, when votes were being stolen by the corrupt Election process in Broward County, and Ron was going down ten thousand votes a day, along with now-Senator Rick Scott, I sent in the FBI and the U.S. Attorneys, and the ballot theft immediately ended, just prior to them running out of the votes necessary to win,” he wrote.

“I stopped his Election from being stolen…”

Back in 2018, Mr DeSantis beat Democratic candidate Andrew Gillum in a tight race that went down to a recount.

The race has never been contested prior to Mr Trump’s comments and the former president has provided no evidence to support his claims.

But, following Mr Trump’s claim that he interfered in the election, many people are calling for a probe to be launched into the matter.

Former FBI assistant director Frank Figliuzzi highlighted Mr Trump’s apparent confession on Twitter.

“Trump says that when he was POTUS, he sent the FBI and federal prosecutors to Broward County to ensure a win for Ron DeSantis and Rick Scott. Do I have that right?” he asked.

Attorney Daniel Uhlfelder said called for an investigation and said that he was filing a complaint with the Florida Elections Integrity Office.

Donald Trump on Tuesday night at his election day party in Mar-a-Lago as the ‘red wave’ failed to appear
Donald Trump on Tuesday night at his election day party in Mar-a-Lago as the ‘red wave’ failed to appear (AP)

“In 2018, Rick Scott defeated Bill Nelson by 10,033 votes & DeSantis defeated Andrew Gillum by 32,463 votes. Trump said tonight that he sent in the FBI and US Attorneys to ensure their victory. This seems like a case that Florida’s election police should immediately investigate,” he tweeted.

“I will be filing a complaint with the Florida Elections Integrity Office. According to their website, ‘Governor DeSantis, Florida’s Secretary of State Cord Byrd and the Florida Department of State have made elections integrity a top priority.’”

“DeSantis only won this election by .4%. This comment puts the election results into question demands an immediate investigation,” tweeted Meidas Touch, the liberal political action committee, circling Mr Trump’s comments.

Another person simply tweeted: “um... WHAT?”

Mr Trump’s apparent admission that he meddled in the race comes after he has spent the past two years denying the results of the 2020 presidential election and falsely claiming that it was “stolen” from him due to fraud.

Multiple investigations have debunked his claims and members of his own administration – including daughter Ivanka Trump – have admitted they know this to be false.

Mr Trump’s unsubstantiated comments about the Florida gubernatorial race comes as he has started to take swipes at Mr DeSantis, who has emerged as the GOP poster boy while the former president is being relegated to the shadows.

In Thursday’s lengthy statement, Mr Trump laid into his one-time ally, calling him “Ron DeSanctimonious” and taking credit for his political success.

“Ron came to me in desperate shape in 2017 - he was politically dead, losing in a landslide to a very good Agriculture Commissioner, Adam Putnam, who was loaded up with cash and great poll numbers,” Mr Trump claimed.

“Ron had low approval, bad polls, and no money, but he said that if I would Endorse him, he could win.”

The former president’s rant also took aim at Rupert Murdoch’s news empire, saying that Fox, the Wall Street Journal and The New York Post are “all in” for Mr DeSantis.

The Republican party has largely turned on Mr Trump, blaming him for the disappointing midterm results.

While the GOP had been expecting to flip several crucial seats from blue to red, the “red wave” failed to materialise.

While Republicans are still on track to take control of the House – though be it by a smaller majority than expected – control of the Senate is still up for grabs.

Among the GOP losses were several candidates endorsed by Mr Trump, including TV doctor Mehmet Oz who was beaten by Democrat John Fetterman, flipping a seat for the Democrats in Pennsylvania.

The New York Post’s front cover on Thursday
The New York Post’s front cover on Thursday (New York Post)

Several candidates who joined Mr Trump in pushing his false claims of 2020 election fraud also lost their races.

Republican politicians – and the right-wing media – have come out in force, blaming Mr Trump for the midterms flop and throwing their support behind Mr DeSantis to lead the party in the 2024 presidential race.

The Florida governor easily sailed to victory over Demcratic challenger Charlie Crist on Tuesday to secure another term.

He has not officially confirmed a 2024 run for the White House but has long been rumoured to be Mr Trump’s biggest GOP rival for the role.

Mr Trump is expected to announce his own run on 17 November when he said he will make a “special announcement”.

He had been expected to pledge his run the night before the election but was reportedly talked down. Republicans are now advising him not to launch his campaign next week either and several have started saying they would not support Mr Trump in 2024.

Fox and The New York Post also appeared to cut ties with Mr Trump this week following a longtime allegiance, with the Post’s frontpage on Thursday featuring a caricature of the one-term president as the nursery rhyme character Humpty Dumpty.

The headline read: “TRUMPTY DUMPTY”

“Don (who couldn’t build a great wall) had a great fall - can all the GOP’s men put the party back together again?” the front page continued.

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